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Smartphones are an efficient and effective way to conduct business on the road — enabling builders and other business owners to contact their team, update information for vendors, search for information, use social media to market their company and capture images of current or completed jobs in real time — according to panelists on a recent NAHB webinar on “Sales and Marketing for Busy Builders: Five Basic Tips to Fast-Track Your Internet Marketing Strategy.”
They also noted that the tool is an effective way to keep up with younger buyers who use the Internet and social media to constantly stay abreast of new developments.
“Smart phones provide builders with many avenues to interact — texting, email, applications or apps, social media, search engines,and photos,” said Kevin Woodward of Kevin Woodward Construction based in Grand Isle, Neb.
“Text messaging can be used to contact contractors, vendors and other members of the team, saving time and money and giving you an electronic record of your communications,” Woodward said.
“You can send out last minute updates to a group of individuals with one message. This eliminates multiple phone calls and wasted time,” he added.
Panelists also provided tips on improving websites, search engine optimization (SEO) to improve their visibility, blogging and more during the webinar, which was presented by NAHB’s Business Management & Technology Information Committee earlier this month
“Whether you are in the office or waiting for a plane at the airport, you have immediate contact,” Woodward said. “With today’s smartphones, there are apps or applications that are already installed that allow you to access websites and product information lines to secure any information you may need at any time.”
Many of the apps can be downloaded for free, he said, while noting that vendors often offer free applications that allow users access to information about their products.
In addition, he said smartphone users can send emails and attach photos, spreadsheets and correspondence from other parties to keep production moving. Quick communication can mean a faster turn-around time for projects and improve quality assurance, he said.
“You can snap a picture for instant use or save it to send to someone else. It allows instant access to completed work to use as an instant selling tool,” Woodward said.
Make Websites Mobile-enabled and Easier to Find
Carol Flammer of Flammer Relations, Inc., an Atlanta-based public relations and social media firm, explained that consumers are becoming more reliant on smartphone capabilities and that builders should adapt accordingly.
“People now browse the Internet from anywhere,” Flammer said. “Two years ago, about 2% of web traffic came from mobile devices. Now we are seeing between 8% and 10%.”
"Its going to become increasingly important for home builders to make sure that their websites are mobile-enabled to display well from a mobile device,” she said, explaining that a mobile-enabled site is an abbreviated version of the primary site with the most pertinent information easy to find and see.
Make Websites Easy to Navigate
Flammer stressed the importance of making websites easy to navigate so prospective buyers can readily find what they’re looking for.
“The home page has to be visually appealing, simple and easy to read,” she said. “It needs to have content, but it should be brief. It should give a basic understanding about what your business is about and go into more depth in the other topic-based sections.”
It also should provide information the visitors want. “Think about what your target audience will be looking for,” Flammer said.
She also noted that home buyers, like other consumers, want to reach out to a real person, and she told webinar participants to make sure they had their contact information or form on every page.
“Consider having contact information in as many places as you can. That way visitors can reach out to you from wherever they are on the website,” she said.
She also advocated having a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section to educate the consumer — and save builders time.
“Especially if your site relates to products or something that you sell, it’s important that you include an FAQ section. For small businesses it can cut down on warranty and maintenance calls from customers. Having the FAQ section will educate the buyers and save you time and money,” she said.
She also told attendees to make it clear on the website what they wanted visitors to do. If increasing home sales is the goal, she said, include incentives, pricing and other buying topics. A person visiting a website should be able to find anything they need in two to three clicks.
Improve Search Engine Optimization and Make Websites Easy to Find
“SEO is like soup, it takes just the right ingredients to get it right,” Flammer said. “If someone is looking for your company but doesn’t know the name, what kind of terms are they going to look for, something price-related, its location or product-related?”
Builders can set themselves apart and make their websites easier to find by optimizing their websites with location and product words.
“Write content with relevant key words and use those key words and link them properly,” she said.
“Title tags and mega data is the actual content on the page, which the search engines also use. Off-page SEO is linking to your page from online articles, blogs, directories and other avenues, which can build relevance. Social media is a large off-page SEO,” she said.
Don’t Overlook Blogging
Flammer called blogging the horsepower behind a social marketing program and a tool to increase a website's SEO.
“It helps to interconnect marketing into one place. Any campaign that you do, you should blog about it,” she said. “A properly built blog that is built to feed Facebook and Twitter means that you only have to post content once and you can take time using your smartphone to respond on the fly.”
The key words in a post should link visitors to the builder’s website. It not only directs blog visitors to the website, it establishes relevance and improves search engine optimization.
A blog also provides a relaxed and welcoming voice for a company, Flammer said. It encourages conversation and interaction and can give the builder an idea on what buyers and prospective buyers are thinking.
Blogs are also an important tool for managing a builder’s reputation and should be the cornerstone of their online brand. Now more than ever you can control what people see when they Google your company, she said.
An interesting, informative blog will attract followers and search engines and increase traffic, Flammer said. Blogs are one of the top five referral sources.
Webinar Replay Available
A replay of “Sales and Marketing for Busy Builders: Five Basic Tips to Fast-Track Your Internet Marketing Strategy” is available by clicking here.
For more information, email Erin Grant at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8461.